This past weekend my middle son and I were home alone for an hour one afternoon. If you have more than two kids, you know the plight of the middle child. Stuck in the middle they don’t get the attention the oldest did and still demands…and they don’t get the attention lavished on the baby because they’re the baby! As such, they are desperate for attention and rarely get enough of it. In our home that turns into a lot of begging and whining and, sadly, a generalized state of annoyance from me. Can I get an amen?
My middle son is also something of an agility phenom. From the time he was a toddler he could manipulate an ordinary stumble and turn it into an incredibly maneuvered running somersault, impressing more than just his mom. Last year I finally convinced my husband to allow me to buy him a trampoline for his birthday to encourage his gift, and wear him out a little. Selfishly, I also thought it would keep him happy jumping and give me a bit of peace and quiet. Something notably lacking in a house full of boys.
It worked. His favorite thing to do is jump on the trampoline. Never mind that his other favorite thing is to ask me, eighteen-million times a day, to jump on the trampoline with him! I try to dodge every time because three babies in four years makes a bladder weak. But he’s relentless. Trust me, my boys would love to see me “lose it” on the trampoline. Stuff like that gets bonus points in my brood of boys. But my middle-child mom guilt was running high, so I obliged. We bounced.
And we bounced and bounced, and I showed him all my best tricks. Which is one. One trick. The jump splits. Not very tricky apparently. He did mine and then wanted me to do his. His favorite is the front flip. Ummm, yeah, no. Over and over again he begged me to try the front flip. And he’s really cute and was asking so nicely. So I bounced and thought about it and told him I couldn’t because I was too afraid. But somewhere deep in my gut I wanted to. I was torn between my brain telling me I couldn’t and my heart saying Why the heck not? What are you so afraid of? It’s a TRAMPOLINE for God’s sake!! Yeah, all that, but no.
Did I tell you he’s relentless?
His next tactic was to tell me how he does it. Bouncing up and down with his little tow-head crop of hair and happy blue eyes he said, “Mom, I know you’re afraid. What I do when I’m afraid is I just let my courage take over. I let it be bigger than my fear.” Well then, I thought. Just like that. I bounced. And I bounced… I false started and then knew I had to do it. I had to do it for him, standing there inside the trampoline two feet away cheering me on. I needed to do it for me. And you know what? A few minutes later I did! In the single moment I let my courage become bigger than my fear, I flipped. And I screamed! You cannot even imagine the smile that lit up his bright little face as he ran over to me yelling: “You did it! You did it! Mom, I KNEW you could do it!” Never mind how he told me later that my flip was low and his are definitely higher… I did it.
I didn’t get up and together we laid on our backs on the trampoline and I said: “I did it for you, buddy.” He climbed on top of me to snuggle and I realized he was right. I could do it. Doing it for him didn’t make it any less meaningful, or any easier for me to do, but it helped. He saw something in me I couldn’t find. He knew I could do it when I wasn’t sure myself. It reminded me that we will face hard things, encounter difficult decisions, and we need people in our lives who will tell us we can do it. That no matter what lies ahead, we just need to let our courage be bigger than our fear. Even if only for the moment it takes to flip.
I’ve practiced my front flip a handful of times now and I haven’t stopped being afraid. Every time I bounce and deliberate and will myself to thrust my body up, forward and around. Every time it feels hard. But I’m doing it anyway because I can. You can too. Are you ready to flip? Let your courage take over. Feel it beating with in you until it is bigger than you fear. Then flip!